Google Local Pack Now Polluted with Product Ads

Google Shopping Local Pack Product Ads

Google shopping ads, or product listing ads (PLAs), have started appearing in the local pack for mobile product searches. This disruptive new introduction has caused quite an uproar in the search marketing community.

Now, when you search for certain types of products in a given area, you’re likely to see PLAs in the local pack, as shown in the figure below.

Google local pla shopping ads
What’s disruptive about PLAs popping-up in the local pack is this: Google is not showing refrigerator stores in Atlanta, but rather refrigerator products (associated with advertisers paying for Google Shopping Ads).

Sure, there’s local info about the store being shown in the ads. But take another glance at the above figure. Sears Hometown Stores is owning it. So what now? Google Shopping advertisers get the unfair advantage of premium mobile search real estate?

Is The “Puke Pack” Scumming Up Local Search?local product ads

Some of the local SEO community’s most respected experts have weighed-in on the new product-infused local pack. And it isn’t pretty.

First to cover the subject was Mike Blumenthal. According to his perspective:

“It is not particularly well marked as an ad and it fills the whole screen above the fold on my iphone.

It is immediately followed up by another ad with site links which takes up a fair bit of space and then finally, the 3 pack. By this time, the user is 2400 pixels down the screen.  Oh yes and  local organic results below that.”

The screenshot to the right is what Mike is referring to on his post.

He’s not the only one to cringe at the site of Google’s new hopefully-this-is-just-an-experiment. Andrew Shotland retweeted Mike’s post, dubbing the PLA-polluted local pack the “Puke Pack.”

andrewshotland google local shopping

I agree 100%, Mr. Shotland. We’re dealing with some awfully scummed-up search results.

My $0.02

As with many others in the local SEO community, we’re hoping that this is fleeting test from Google, and that it’s NOT here to stay. No doubt that Google is an advertising model, as it displays this so evidently in the new local shopping pack. But this seems like a bit much.

It would be hard to imagine the majority of searchers appreciating this new addition. We, like many others, would have to think the general searcher intent for a query like “refrigerators Atlanta” or “engagement rings New Orleans” is find local stores that sell refrigerators and engagement rings.

As a local search marketer, it’s easy to be annoyed and quickly write-off PLAs in the local pack as unwanted pollution. But in the case, I truly think Google has gone a bit too far.

What do you think?